Remember when I was talking about moving on, post-Mueller?
Boy, that was stupid. I somehow didn’t grasp that of course we wouldn’t be able to, because Trump wouldn’t let us. In hindsight it was predictable, really – of course Donald, his corrupt AG in place, would go on the war path. Of course he would commit a whole new string of impeachable offences. Of course he would seek his revenge.
Even before what just happened Trump was behaving in ways that made impeachment a moral and constitutional imperative. Well, now impeachment just stopped being merely the only right thing to do, and has become an absolutely necessary response that must begin immediately.
Spouting charges of treason, coups, and traitors in the ranks, Trump has set Bill Barr on the intelligence agencies. Roy Cohn 2.0 has, by Presidential fiat, been given the mandate to persecute those who launched the counter-intelligence investigation into Russia’s attack on American democracy, and granted the power to declassify sources and methods as he sees fit while he’s at it.
Having already assaulted the FBI, and destroyed the careers of his most prominent antagonists there, the tyrant now seeks to hamstring the nation’s shield against its foreign enemies. This is turning into something far, far too close to a Stalinist purge, and if revenge was Trump’s sole motivation this latest move would certainly be one more brick in the rising wall, one more thing to pitch onto the growing pile of impeachment fodder, as the Dems play the angles, gather strength, and collect ammo.
What turns this into an emergency is that revenge isn’t the half of it. As former FBI Director James Comey noted via Tweet yesterday – Christ, by what sick twist of fate has Twitter turned into the primary forum for the most urgent political discourse of our lifetimes? – this move will have an absolutely chilling effect on those responsible for investigating and thwarting ongoing Russian efforts to rig the 2020 elections. Displease me, Donald is saying, and I’m coming for you. At this point, when Donald, who can apparently do anything he pleases, accuses ex-FBI agents of treason, a capital offence, do you think they’re confident that the simple legal impossibility of making that stick will stop him from trying? Yeah? Since when does that stop Fat Donny? By the time the courts come to your rescue, your career will be in ashes, your reputation destroyed, your family traumatized, your privacy obliterated.
Meanwhile, if Barr starts declassifying sources and methods, what do you suppose that will do to ongoing intelligence collection? The best stuff doesn’t come from spy satellites and signal intercepts, you know. It comes from human intelligence, not just that provided by our own operatives on the ground, but from foreign informers, moles, double agents, insiders in their governments, close confidants and high-ranking officers deep in the enemy camp – people who die, usually horribly, if their identity is ever discovered. Hell, just the possibility of blown covers will scare off any foreigners who might otherwise be recruited as intelligence assets. Just talking about disclosing sources and methods will build a stone wall between the CIA and the intelligence agencies it works with abroad, especially the “five eyes” allies that US intelligence leans on heavily for information sharing. If, say, CSIS or MI6 want to keep recruiting their own foreign assets, it will have to be the rule that nobody tells the Americans anything about it, lest covers be blown, and lives lost. Nobody on the inside abroad would dare join the effort otherwise.
In short, it’s possible our own assets will shy away from counterintelligence, while the flow of some of the most crucial intel also dries up.
Trump isnt just out for payback. He’s trying to help Putin rig the next election.
It’s all part of a piece. His refusal to admit the interference ever even happened in 2016, his public acceptance of Putin’s denials, his resistance to sanctions to punish Russia for what it did, his refusal to order any active measures to shore up US electronic defences in the run-up to 2020, his non-reaction to news that Russian intelligence penetrated Florida’s electronic election machinery – the tip of the iceberg? – and now this.
I’m not sure the press and pundit commentariat quite understand how huge this is. We’re in real trouble now. This is why we can’t wait until the next election. Whatever tools are still left in the box must now be used. If all we haven’t tried yet are the nukes, then it’s time to gulp hard and use the goddam nukes. Immediately. Today. All other considerations secondary. Political calculations be damned. Right fucking now, Nancy, goddammit. While there’s still time.